Let’s be honest, we all love to travel but most of the time, the process of traveling can drain the life and soul out of you. With the Summer travel season in full swing, for those passing through Hamad International Airport (or, like me, departing from there) on Qatar Airways or another carrier like Sri Lankan, there are a few options to lighten the load and make the process a little more comfy. even the most basic lounge (without the bells and whistles) can make traveling a little better.
What’s the best way to access lounges when flying?
- Flying business or first class – this is a no brainer and expensive option
- Get status – almost all frequent flyer programs offer some kind of lounge access for silver and above.
- Have a credit card with lounge access attached – some offer limited lounge access in a certain region or wider depending on the perks. American Express is great for this.
- Buy a day pass – some lounges offer people traveling the chance to pay for access – usually for a limited time frame
- Buy a membership – outfits like Priority Pass offer access to more than 1000 lounges around the world
- With a friend or relative – if you are on the same flight as a mate or soulmate with elite status then they can get you access with them. Qatar airways gives Silver members and above number of passes each year.
- With points – some programs allow you to purchase access with points.
If you are looking for a guide to dining options at Doha Airport, then check my updated rundown here. But, if you want a little more luxe in your life, here’s your guide to all the lounges at Hamad International Airport (some you may not know about!) and how to access them:
Al Safwa First Class Lounge
When can I move in? With premium champagne and a sushi bar, this is what lounges should be like. To be honest, it can be a bit daunting accessing the lounge, you walk along a cavernous corridor lined with artworks by the likes of Keith Haring.
There is a restaurant-style dining area with an a la carte menu offering Arabic, Asian and western dishes (the pasta is always a great choice). There is also a snack area with sushi and sandwiches made to order – this is more casual. Make sure you check out the dessert room. Yes. ROOM.
Speaking of rooms, there is a dedicated TV room, with theater-style seating and a huge screen and if you are in need of some TLC, there is an onsite spa with a range of treatments and there is a Duty Free store of your hopes and dreams there also.
How to access: Fly Qatar Airways First Class. Sorry!
Heads up: Spa services are an additional cost.
Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge
The size of 10 Olympic swimming pools, this has become the lounge by which all are judged. There are two separate dining areas depending on your mood. Upstairs is the buffet-style restaurant (the butter chicken is a favorite) set up with a long bar serving up wine, beer, spirirts and cocktails. Downstairs tucked away is the “cafe” which serves up freshly made sandwiches and has a small bar – this is my favorite area as it’s usually quieter and the team will make toasted sandwiches to order. In between there are various areas to chill out and charge up your devices.
Those looking for privacy are well catered as are the hyper energetic, thanks to a games room complete with foosball, Playstation consoles and an F1 racing simulator.
How to access: Fly Qatar Airways or One World business class (code share with Qatar Airways – I did this recently with a business class flight out of Doha purchased on Cathay Pacific) or, the good news is that you can now purchase access for QR450 or US$120 (if you are flying Qatar Airways). Expensive, yes. But if you have a longer transit, this is a lovely option.
Heads up: Toilet facilities in the upstairs restaurant area are limited.
This is the lounge used by other airlines departing the airport as well as those with certain credit cards. Not as lavish as the main lounges, there is still a buffet of snacks – sandwiches, pastries, soup and salad as well as drinks. There are TV screens, a selection of magazines and a quiet room when it all gets a bit too much.
Like Al Mourjan, they also have a games room with playstations and a foosball table.
How to access: Fly business or first with a non-Qatar Airways carrier, or have a credit card with lounge access. You can also pay QR200 (US$55) for access.
Heads up: This place can get crowded. Also, alcoholic beverages are available from 11am daily, but you have to ask the staff.
Qatar Airways First Class Lounge
Not to be confused with Al Safwa, this lounge is designated for Qatar Airways Platinum frequent flyers as well as One World Emerald who aren’t flying premium class.
It has two dining areas – one small section for a la carte (Arabic and western dishes) and one more popular buffet area which has salads, soups, sandwiches and a couple of hot dishes. Alcohol is available but again you must ask the staff for this. There is also a family room and a smoking room as well as two showers (ask at reception for access).
How to access: Hold Emerald status with One World, hold a One World First Class ticket or Gold or Platinum with Qatar Airways flying economy class.
Heads up: This is more environmental than anything else, but the lounge overlooks the huge LED screen on the main airport concourse. So, it can bright and distracting for some.
Qatar Airways Business Class Lounge
This lounge is BUSY. There is the usual buffet set up with hold and cold options as well as wine and beer on display. There are TVs and places to recharge your phone and your mind.
Heads up: Did I say this lounge was busy?
How to access: Open to Qatar Airway Silver Privilege Club holders, One World Sapphire and Emerald and One World Business Class passengers.
The Al Maha service is one of the airport’s great services, Al Maha Meet and Greet service has lounges scattered all over the airport, according to purpose.They have an arrivals and a departure lounge as well as one for transiting passengers and packages are scaled accordingly – Gold, Platinum and Family. these include a porter service to help with bags as well as access to their comfy lounges (coffee, tea, snacks, soft drinks and TVs).
On my father’s last visit I booked him the arrivals and departures package and they treated him like a king – he’s still talking about it
How to access: Book and pay through their website – cost depends on package and services needed. The transit lounge can be access by Priority Pass cardholders.
Heads up: The transit lounge has shower facilities and alcoholic beverages.
Business and First Class Arrivals Lounge
My favorite perk of flying Premium on Qatar Airways. Anyone holding a Qatar Airways First or business Class ticket can access this lounge which is on the left of Immigration. for Doha arrivals this is a Godsend. Hand your boarding pass at reception and grab a soft drink or tea or coffee and relax.
They have a couple of e-gates (for Qatar residents) as well as an Immigration counter meaning you will be through in minutes.
Heads up: Can get busy at peak times.
How to access: Hold a Qatar Airways business or first class boarding pass.
Special Assistance Traveler’s Lounge
For travelers needing assistance this lounge is the perfect place to come before a flight. Refreshments are available and there is a specially trained attendant on hand as well as adapted washroom facilities.
Unaccompanied Minors Lounge
This was my dream as a kid, to fly alone, but it can also be stressful. This lounge has TVs, a play area and snacks. Those traveling unaccompanied are cared for at all times and escorted to and from the plane.
How to access: Arrangements should be made at time of booking.
Heads up: For parent’s peace of mind, only designated airline personnel can enter the lounge; no other staff or passengers are allowed access.
Please read my disclaimer here.